Volume 3 Number 1 • Spring 2011

Caroline Gerardo

Granny Magic

A nightmare of pig rats in Granny's cinder block house wakes Betsy. Betsy walks barefoot in their Houston Street loft. She checks on the baby, adjusting the quilt of elves and mushrooms.

"Back to bed Betsy, fix the dream," she says to herself. She creeps into the cavern to calm snarling creatures under a dripping amethyst ceiling. Betsy's rosemary necklace blocks scent of human. The skunk ape is silent. Garlic stops the disgusting monster from birthing more swine. The "do over" fantasy is spoiled by ringing. The house phone screams.

"Granny is dying." Mamma says from Clay County.

"I'm coming."

"Honey, you're pregnant, it's a long way. I gathered Cumberland Azaleas for her coffin spray."

"No, it's Prinophyllum." Betsy put the phone up.

A black pigeon leaves the windowsill. Rose-shell blooming pink/cinnamon/clove in the woods is on her hands. Trumpets of those buds call her home. She packs diapers into her Tumi bag. The light clicks on without touching the switch-plate in her toddler's bedroom.

"Tell Granny to wait!" Betsy chants to the haint.

Milk is left on blue doorsteps. Flora sleeps in the car-seat. Ephemeral wildflowers greet them roadside. Solomon's seal, wake-robin and spotted mandarin lean into the breeze the Volvo creates. These mountains heard the songs of the Cherokee; the Civil War cries and backfires from coal miners' trucks. A deer leaps out of the way. Two smaller does munch foamflowers in their lips. Drive faster. Flora might be hungry.

Betsy moved away to marry. The polished dirt floor of Granny's house was cold, so she bought a manufactured home on piers and augers. Someone delivered it in two halves over miles of compacted gravel. Ahead Betsy spots the mobile home and a Little Tikes plastic car.

"Let's meet Granny." Betsy lifts Flora, cloudy eyed.

A cousin in a dotted dress leads them to the concrete cabin up the trail.

"Where is Mamma and Granny?"

"Up here."

Flora's rejuvenated with oxygen from the dogwood forest ambles. Flora leaps as if she ran this path a thousand times.

"Hurry, the 'smoke lady' is 'goin'." Flora chases a butterfly the wrong way. The marine blue leptotes drops to the child's shoulder. Flora giggles. The bug disappears.

A basil bouquet hangs on the door with a bow of berries. Betsy ducks through the crackle paint doorway to enter the room.

Mamma releases the vent from the cast iron stove, her arms outstretched.    "She couldn't wait any longer Betsy."

"Mommy 'smoke lady' is sleeping." Flora answers.

Betsy looks at quilts on the rack, "Why are Granny's things in here?"

"She never moved into your motor home. Granny loved you. She left you her books and the land."

The sound of the words made no sense. Granny could never 'own' this wild country. Her sun lit circle of garden was the only patch in a hundred acres where she tamed the trees. Betsy kisses Granny's cheek. They had closed her mouth, but Betsy swore she heard her whisper, "stay."

Caroline Gerardo was born in Cincinnati Ohio. Her parents moved their large family from Louisiana, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania before she was eleven years old. She graduated from Scripps College Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors Dual Degrees in Literature and Art. Her encaustic paintings achieved great success. Caroline's writing style has a poetic and graceful eye. She graduated from Claremont Graduate University with a M.F.A.

1989 was a turning point for Caroline, she changed her focus from a creative life to supporting her two children. She worked in the banking industry as an executive for Washington Mutual Bank.

Caroline's novel Toxic Assets is about to be released February 1st 2011. The book features a strong female character who is unaware she has taken a position of leadership at a mortgage bank and is being framed for the murders of Board Members.

Caroline also completed a series of short stories: Cardinal Sins, Vanity, Greed and Lust on 'Smashwords'

A third book is in progress with the working title: Seth about a young man with evil in his heart. Caroline loves gardening, gourmet cooking, and reading scientific journals.